Youth Summit: between impatience and enthusiasm

Youth Summit youth: between impatience and enthusiasm

Mayor Valérie Plante was accompanied by several representatives and speakers for the inaugural speeches.

More than 300 young people from around the world gather in Montreal on December 5 and 6 for the summit of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network(GYBN), on the sidelines of COP15, to once again reaffirm the importance of listening to and learning from young people in the fight against climate change.

Montreal and Quebec City proud to welcome young people

“It gives me great pleasure to start COP15 with you, young people, who come from many different places,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante in a speech to the assembly on Monday morning. For me, it is important that we insist on the importance of civil society when it comes to the fight against climate change.”

Young people and civil society have historically been the main drivers of change in social justice and the environment, recalled the mayor.

“Today, we are talking about biodiversity and the fight against climate change, a challenge that has no borders and for which we must put pressure on decision-makers to bring about radical changes. It was the young people who mobilized everyone with the passage of Greta Thunberg in 2019, and it is again the young people who will be mobilized for the environment.”

Youth-summit: between impatience and enthusiasm

Valérie Plante handing the microphone to one of the young people present in the room so that he introduces himself and the delegation he is accompanying to Montreal. Caption: David Beauchamp, Subway

The Minister of Youth, Mathieu Lacombe, took advantage of his speech to remind young people of their importance in the fight against climate change. “The Prime Minister reiterated, during his inaugural address, the importance of biodiversity, and the importance of young people, who are at the forefront of this battle against climate change. You must continue to put pressure so that we talk more about the environment.”

Young people are getting impatient

For the vice-national coordinator of the Congolese subsidiary of GYBN and biodiversity activist, Emmanuel Lokpaka Bafalata, the presence of young people in Montreal is justified by a desire to put more pressure on the shoulders of decision-makers so that they obtain what is rightfully theirs, that is, say a decent future, in a context where time is running out.

“We are calling for the inclusion and immediate participation of young people in all that is projects or programs related to biodiversity, he told Métro, after the speeches. This loss of biodiversity has great consequences and among the people most affected are young people. It is time for us to stand up and act to demand transformative change and concrete action from the decision makers who sign the treaties and documents.”

His comments echo those of Ashley Torres, a Montreal environmental activist with the collective Muskrat, for whom this meeting is important for young people to meet to discuss the desired change.

This is an opportunity to get our message out. Discussing all this with young people from around the world allows us to understand more generally the issues and priorities for young people elsewhere. We want young people to be more at the negotiating table and to be taken seriously.

Ashley Torres, Montreal environmental activist

“We are creating frameworks and ever more frameworks to implement environmental measures, but local implementation through actions does not come, adds -she. It's been thirty years that we have been making “ambitious” executives but who are still not established. For us, the priority is the immediate implementation of frameworks that would oblige local actors to respect the environment for good.”

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